It is another London derby this weekend, as West Ham United welcome Arsenal to the London Stadium. The timing is good for the visitors as it is likely David Moyes will make wholesale changes. The Hammers once had ambitions of finishing in the top four, but their focus will be on their Europa League campaign. They trail Frankfurt 2-1, after losing the first leg on Thursday night. Although they are up against it in the tie, there will be belief that they can turn it around next week. For the Gunners, they only have one focus and that is to finish in the top four. They are in the driver’s seat again and they can’t afford to be complacent on Sunday.
David Moyes has done an excellent job at West Ham, as he is getting the club punching above their weight. Their Europa League campaign has been the thing of dreams and the club will not be happy to lose out at the quarter final stage. The game on Thursday was closely fought and the lack of away goals means that they will not lose home ahead of next week. Mass rotation is likely, as Moyes will want his first eleven to be well rested for next week.
Mikel Arteta once played under David Moyes and he will be wanting to beat his former manager. It has been a testing period for Arsenal, but successive wins over Chelsea and Manchester United have injected momentum back into their season. They are the frontrunners to finish in the top four and will know that they can’t afford to drop many more points. This is one of their toughest fixtures left, but they will believe that it is a good time to go to the London Stadium. If they perform like they did against Chelsea and Manchester United, they will have a great chance.
David Moyes has won just one of his last 22 Premier League matches against Arsenal.
Arsenal are in good form away from home, winning six of their last eight on the road.
This has been another incredible season for Declan Rice, as he continues to develop as a central midfielder. It is expected that he will leave West Ham in the next 12 months, as he has yet to sign a new deal with the club. Moyes has insisted that the club will try to hold on to him, but it could become very difficult if serious interest comes forward during the summer. It is beyond doubt that Rice is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. It is understandable that he wants to test himself against the best. West Ham could still qualify for next season’s Champions League. If they manage to achieve that, it is possible that Rice could decide to stay. The club will know that they need to achieve that to keep him happy. This is an opportunity for Rice to dominate Arsenal’s midfield. The absence of Thomas Partey means that the Gunners are short of numbers in the middle of the park. If Rice isn’t rotated, he could have a huge part to play on Sunday.
The Arsenal player of the season is an easy award to give out. Bukayo Saka has been their most influential player, as he has taken his game to a whole new level under Mikel Arteta. His ability to bounce back from a disappointing end to the summer speaks volumes about his character. Like Rice, he will believe that he should be playing regularly in the Champions League. Saka has contributed 11 goals and five assists in the Premier League this season. He is a consistent threat from the right and he has cemented the starting berth on that side of the pitch. In addition to his attacking quality, he has a high work rate and helps press in the opposition half. At the age of 20, he has huge potential and it is exciting to think about the player he could become if he continues on his current path. West Ham have defensive absentees this weekend and Saka could really punish them if he is afforded space.
Craig Dawson will be suspended after being sent off last weekend. Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna are both missing through injury, while Kurt Zouma is only just returning from injury. West Ham will have a makeshift defence, while Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen could be rested.
Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey will be absent for the visitors, with neither player expected to feature again this season. Takehiro Tomiyasu will be involved in the match-day squad, but he may not be ready to start.
West Ham’s minds will be elsewhere, as they will be focused on coming back to progress in the Europa League. Their team selection will likely show that and it will play into the hands of Arsenal. After some disappointing results, the Gunners have been a lot better in their last two matches. They should have the momentum and quality to beat a second string West Ham team.
West Ham 0-2 Arsenal